Beginning with Communication
Have you had “the talk” with your family about the inevitable end? Although it may feel uncomfortable, organizing your affairs before death can be one of the greatest gifts you leave behind. Estate planning is an important component of your overall financial life plan. It draws upon your values and how you can fulfill some of your lifelong goals.
We’re building this guide to assist you in your estate planning journey and will be adding articles, tools, and resources over time. In the meantime, if you have questions about your estate plan, please contact us here. If you have suggestions for improving this guide, we welcome your feedback.
You may also like to visit our Estate Planning Resources to access the Executor Guide and other tools. Please note this page is password protected. Clients can visit the November e-newsletter for the password, or contact us to discuss access.
What is Estate Planning and Why is it Important?
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is the process of organizing all aspects of your estate in advance of your death or incapacitation. The outcome is a guide for your executor to efficiently manage and disburse assets to beneficiaries according to your wishes. It handles complex issues such as minimizing taxes, transferring businesses and providing for dependents. A well-designed estate plan is artfully crafted and takes into consideration taxation, liquidity, equalization, rollovers, joint tenancy ownership, trusts, life insurance, bequests, charitable gifts, probate, and named beneficiaries.
Why is Estate Planning Important?
How many of the following reasons apply to you?
- Make the job of your executor easier
- Avoid holding up the disbursement of assets upon your passing
- Minimize the impact of the tax bill on your estate, freeing up as much as possible for disbursement
- Ensure the beneficiaries you select actually benefit as much as possible from your estate proceeds
- Provide for your beneficiaries and/or dependents ensuring their quality of life is maintained long after you are gone
- Leave a legacy in your community
- Preserve an asset that you wish to live on like a family cottage, business, or farm
When Should You Start Estate Planning?
Every situation is unique. Although older individuals may be more tuned into the importance of arranging their estate, it is just as important for young people to consider. Ask yourself “if I were to die today, who would be impacted and how?” Your answer will indicate how urgent it is for you to prepare your estate plan.
Although none of us can know with 100% certainty how long we will live, you can estimate your lifespan based on some parameters. A group of Canadian data scientists, researchers, clinicians, and developers created a calculator that will identify your life expectancy based on your lifestyle choices. The group is called Project Big Life (PBL). Click the button below to discover your life expectancy age.
Who Can do Estate Planning – Can you do it Yourself?
Yes, you can do your estate planning. You can do anything you set your mind to. The bigger question is – how well you can do it? And how much time do you have to commit to it?
Depending on your circumstances, you may want to add several professionals to your estate planning team. Including your:
- Financial Planner
- Certified Executor Advisor (CEA)
- Business Consultant
- Funeral Home
Unless you are already accredited in these professions, you may be missing some critical details for your estate plan. Each of these professionals will have a different perspective on your estate plan. Your financial planner can quarterback the efforts of all parties involved and keep an eye on the big picture. You’re even farther ahead if your financial planner is also a CEA. CEAs have had extensive training in all aspects of what executors tackle and can shed light on areas of estate planning other professionals may not have an eye on.
What happens if you die without a will in Canada?
When you die without a Will it is called dying “intestate”. On the other hand, you have died “testate” if you die with a valid Will in effect. Each province in Canada has an intestate succession act in place to handle your estate if you die without a Will. But do you want the government to make decisions on your behalf?
Disadvantages of Not Having a Will
The court appoints an executor to administer your estate. This could be a spouse or a Trustee or Public Guardian.
- Delays occur while proof that a Will does not exist is being collected.
- A Surety Bond must be purchased for the administrator of the Estate. A Surety Bond is like an insurance policy in case the estate is misappropriated. This is an added delay and expense.
- Decisions must be agreed to by Heirs.
What happens to your pets when you die?
If provisions for your pets have not been made in your estate plan, these cherished family members can end up in an animal shelter. There are, however, several ways you can plan for them:
- Make provisions in your Will
- Create a Pet Trust
- Develop a succession plan
We will expand on these topics in the future. In the meantime, revisit your Will and use our Estate Guide to instruct your Executor on what to do for your pets in the event of your death.
What Estate Planning Documents Do You Need?
Estate Planning and Trusts
Estate Taxes in Canada
Estate Planning for Elderly Parents
Estate Planning for Blended Families
Estate Planning for Business Owners
How to Pre-Plan a Funeral
The information in this commentary is for informational purposes only and not meant to be personalized financial planning advice. The content has been prepared by the team at Fraser & Partners from sources believed to be accurate.